From Tatters of the King
Session Report - Played Monday 28th August, 2006
Monday December 16th 1929
The investigators meet this evening at Dr. Bartlett's house to discuss events in the Severn Valley and what should be done with the information gathered there. Saunders has arrived back in England that very morning.
The decision is made to visit Milan as quickly as possible in order to be back in London by Christmas.
Tuesday December 17th 1929
Tickets and guidebooks are purchased, excuses are made to spouses, bags are packed.
Wednesday December 18th 1929
The 8.30am boat-train is caught, via Dover, arriving in Paris in late afternoon. With 4 hours to kill before the sleeper rain leaves for Milan, the investigators walk by the Seine and dine at a pleasant bistro in the shadow of Notre-Dame. The sleeper train leaves for Milan.
Thursday December 19th 1929
The investigators arrive in Milan at 7.30am and book into the Hotel des Anglais. The desk clerk arranges an interpreter/guide, and young Paolo Tuminardo - well-dressed, polite and a fervent member of the Fascist party is introduced.
The investigators tell him they need a guide for the tourist sites later, but for now they need an interpreter to help them with some urgent business. They ask for his aid in finding the shipping office of Giuseppe Colombo in Milan's Navigli region and he leads them to a cab and thence into the winding streets of Southern Milan's canal district.
Asking for directions at a small cafe, Tuminardo locates Colombo's office and leads the way inside.
In the office a strange pair of companions sit at a desk above which hangs a version of Da Vinci's "Last Supper" painted from the rear. The two men in the office are a wizened, bald old man with a milky eye and a sour expression and a somewhat effete looking young man with a startlingly sharp nose and long hair.
The old man sits silently, scowling. "Don't mind Signor Colombo." says Villiers.
The investigators ask about Quarrie, at which point Villiers happily responds "The official story is that they have gone to Tibet, but in reality they are on a Pilgrimage..."
Colombo explodes into angry, rapid Italian invective. Obviously he understands enough English to realise what Villers is discussing. The old man shouts at Villers, telling him that he should not tell these strangers such things and that the King in Yellow will crush the likes of them - at least thats what Tuminardo was able to gather from his tirade.
Villiers suggests to the investigators that they accompany him to his studio, he has no idea whats got into Giuseppe, but clearly they have outstayed their welcome. On the way to his studio, a few doors from Colombo's, Villiers explains that he knew Quarrie in London and came to Italy with him when they both broke with their former friends in England.
The investigators dismiss Paolo and tell him to meet them outside later, then enter Villiers' cramped studio. They are surrounded by dark abstract paintings and blank canvasses. Villiers goes to get a bottle of grappa and some glasses and returns to explain the philosophy, or maybe theology of The Brothers of the Yellow Sign and the purpose of Malcolm Quarrie's Pilgrimage.
He tells how he and his friends believe that the Christian Trinity is a distorted version of the true Trinity of Hastur and that Quarrie, along with the university professor Roberto Anzalone has gone in search of their God. At about this time Browne notices a page of notes pinned to a blank canvas. Several phrases leap out at him - 'Springer Mound', 'The King in Yellow', 'Nepal' and 'Drakmar'. It seems to be notes for a planned tryptichshowing the Trinity of Hastur. Browne pockets the paper.
Just as Villiers is about to explain the Pilgrimage in detail he suddenly stops talking. A strange look comes across his face as if he's suddenly realised that he's telling private business to strangers. He says "I just need to get something" and makes for the door.
Before anyone can react, the artist opens the door and cries out "Angel! I bound you and I release you!". He steps out, slams the door shut behind him and a heavy thump comes from the roof.
The investigators look up just as the skylight implodes and a byakhee crashes down to the floor, almost on top of Bartlett. Bartlett barely has time to register surprise as the creature tears his stomach open with a single grab of its great claws, spraying gore across the room.
Browne dives for the window, Saunders grabs an easel and Withers picks up a nearby poker and lays into the monster, cracking a perfect blow against its snout, breaking bone and crushing flesh. the byakhee shrieks and with a thundrous flapping of wings flies staight up and out into the night sky.
Outside, Browne gives chase to Villiers, catching him, landing an ineffective blow and then receiving a well-aimed kick to his bad ankle that leaves him writhing as Villiers flees into the night.
Back in the studio the others try to aid Bartlett, but find that he is already dead. The rest of the investigators stand in stunned horror for a few seconds, but still have the presence of mind to search the studio for further clues, though they find none.
The police and an ambulance are called and the investigators explain that their friend was killed by Villiers using some kind of metal implement that they did not see properly. Inspector Materazzi of the Milan police takes them in for questioning and the studio is sealed off as a murder scene.
The police hunt for Villiers, as the prime suspect in Bartlett's murder, and the respectable nature of the investigators is to their advantage, as their story is believed. They explain their presence in the city as a search for Malcolm Quarrie, who they describe as an old friend.
Friday December 20th 1929
The day is taken up with further questioning, formal identification of the body, contacting Bartlett's family and the Tavistock Institute and all the other inevitable mess that follows a death by foul means.
That evening Thomas Villiers is found dead, floating in the canal, an apparent suicide. Materazzi considers the case closed.
Saturday December 21th 1929
Saunders decides to take the opportunity to do a little local research with Paolo's aid and visits the university library. While there he remembers that the university funded Quarrie and Anzalone's expedition so he makes a call, presents his credentials from the British Museum and ends up having an afternoon meeting with Dr. Bacci, Anzalone's colleague who tells him what he knows of the planned expedition.
Using information provided by the Englishman, Quarrie, professor Anzalone hopes to discover the lost city of Jiwakhar, former capital of the Southern Tibetan kingdom of Gungthang. Bacci lends an 1845 book about the area to Saunders, and from it, and maps available in the library discovers that Gungthang is immediately North of the little known Nepalese kingdom of Mustang, which was mentioned in Villiers' notes and which may be the true destination of the 'Pilgrimage of Grace'. The book also mentions 'Drakmar' as being a location within Mustang, but gives no other details.
Bacci says that Anzalone and Quarrie trvelled with Carlo Schippone, a graduate student, and Major Ricardo Delnegro of the Alpini. Delnegro's involvement is indicative of the Fascist government's desire to be involved in all significant Italian endeavours in order to take its share of the credit.
Bacci believes the expedition will be gone for at least 6 months.
Saunders decides to keep the book and post it back from England.
Sunday December 22nd 1929
Italy being a pious nation, not much is open on Sunday. The surviving investigators rest, read, mourn their friend and start planning a trip to Nepal or Tibet - though Nepal will be problematic as the nation is closed to Westerners.
Monday December 23nd 1929
The day is spent travelling back to London. Bartlett's coffin is met by relatives when they reach Paris.
Tuesday December 24th 1929
The surviving investigators arrive in a snowbound London on the morning of Christmas Eve. They are hardly in the mood for celebration, but they all have at least one or two people they need to buy presents for, and they separate and agree to meet up again at Bartlett's funeral, which is arranged for New Year's Eve, Monday 31st December, 1929. Bartlett's story will end with the decade.
Continue to Session 12.
Link to come...